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We’ve updated this post to add more of the features that Instagram has released over the years!
If you run a local business, be sure to check out our updated post How to Use Instagram for Local Businesses in 2019

I know, I know, ANOTHER social media platform to monitor? Yikes! When will it end?! The answer, never. Social media is an constantly evolving beast, but that doesn’t mean that you need to jump on every new platform that’s out there if it’s not a good fit for your brand.
While Instagram isn’t new, a lot of businesses haven’t taken the opportunity to jump onboard.  I’m going to make a case for why your local business needs to be on Instagram.
Here are some numbers:
– 400 Million Users – who are more HIGHLY ENGAGED on Instagram than their social counterparts. That means more comments, likes, and interactions with your brand.
– 75 million DAILY users. *
– Once a strategy is in place, Instagram really doesn’t take much time to manage at all.
Instagram is a great way to get your brand in front of potential new clients, because they are most likely using it!
OK, let’s pretend that I’ve convinced you. Now what? In order to be successful on Instagram, much like any other social platform or marketing effort, it’s important to have a plan and be consistent.
What are your goals? Do you want to drive traffic to your website? Grow your email subscriber list? Have a goal and work backwards.

How to Use Instagram for Local Businesses  

Make your Bio Stand Out 

Make sure that when people do find your bio, they know you are a local business and what areas you serve. Include your location and a brief description about your business. You don’t have a lot of room in this space, so make it count! Who you are and what you do. Also, make sure that your bio image is great quality too. A logo can work as long as it’s recognizable. If you are more of a personal brand, a personal profile image would work better.
Your bio is also the only place where you can put a hyperlink to your website. Make sure the link is relevant to your goals. If you want people to opt in to a email list, maybe your link is to a digital download and opt in form. If you want to drive traffic to your website, place your link there, but give people a reason to click it!


Especially as you are just starting out and growing your account, hashtags are key to reaching a larger audience.
Create a list of popular hashtags as well as the keywords that are specific to you industry, and of course your location.
This site: Tags for Likes has the most popular hashtags broken down by subject. However, only use the hashtags that make sense with your brand. Even though #instafollow may be popular, if you are not playing the “follow for follow” game, skip it. (Actually, I would strongly recommend not plaything the follow for follow game. If you don’t know what it is, good. Just don’t do it.)
Note: When adding hashtags to your post, add them in the comment section instead of the description to keep your post more tidy looking.

Share Local and Relatable Images

Who are your clients? What images do you think they would like to see? Again, images that show you are locally based helps make that connection to your followers. Do some research and some testing to see what works best.

Use high quality images 

Instagram first and foremost is an image sharing network. Stand out by having striking images. High quality images can easily be taken with a smartphone as well as a high end DSLR. By learning a few fundamentals on how photography works, your photos taken on any device can really stand out.
See our handy post on How to take Better Photos for your Business 

Have a Theme for your account

So your Instagram doesn’t appear like a hodgepodge of random photos, try to make the look and feel of your images consistent with one another and consistent with your brand as well. What are your brand colors? Find ways to incorporate that palate into the images you create.
Here are some great local business in Seattle that have beautiful and brand consistent Instagram accounts to spark some inspiration:

Molly Moon Ice Cream
Cafe Ladro
Rachel’s Ginger Beer
Dunn Lumber

And of course ours, which we are starting to grow!

Odd Dog Instagram local business
Aim for no more than one out of every four images be promotional

Yes, this is your business Instagram account, but don’t promote in every image. Remember why people are on Instagram in the first place and it’s not to be sold to. Speaking of…

Don’t forget the “Social” in “Social Media” 

Engage with other accounts. Like photos. Comment on photos. Follow the accounts that are relevant to your industry and that you think your perfect customers would be following. It’s also a good idea to follow relevant hashtags to see what’s trending in your market.

Find the best time of day to post

Pay attention to trends and times of days where you get more engagement than others. When are your potential clients looking through Instagram? Are they morning commuters? Evening commuters? Middle of the day? Weekends vs weekends? Start noticing the trends and post when you have the most interactions.

Include your location in every post

Instagram allows you to geotag your posts so that users who are looking for images near them or of a specific location they are easy to find. Make sure to add your location to every image.
And in case this isn’t obvious…

Make sure your account is PUBLIC

Instagram gives you the option to set your account to private, so that anyone who wants to follow you needs to request access. This can be great if you have a personal account and want to limit who sees your images.
For your business however, don’t create a barrier for people who want to follow your feed!

Tools and Resources

Here is a list of some tools and resources to help you grow and manage your Instagram account:

Hootsuite: Schedule your posts in advance. While you still have to log into Instagram to upload the image, Hootsuite is a great tool to schedule your posts out and can save you hours by being able to post prepared images and captions on the fly.
Canva: If want to add text or other fancy effects to your Instagram post, Canva is a great desktop site that is super easy to use. It’s currently not available for mobile devices, but if you work at a computer all day, it can be easier to design your posts there.
Snapseed: Phone application that offers great editing. Available for both Android and Apple devices.
Typorama: This easy to use app will allow you to add text to images and also has a wide selection of cool backgrounds and stock images to choose from. The Pro version also allows you to add a watermark to your images. This is great if you want make sure that your companies name or logo appears on your images.
Iconosquare: if you want to track specific metrics across your account, Iconosquare is a great tool. There is a monthly fee, so it really depends on how detailed you want your reporting.
Get Analytics: For a simpler reporting tool, Get Analytics is a good start. Up to three months of reporting history and you can track number of followers, like and comments and how they are all trending.

Do you have any other cool tools or apps that work alongside Instagram? Tell us in the comments below! 

*Instagram Stats  

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